Bankers turn ‘transgressors’ to keep show running

SRINAGAR: With its dislodged fence serving as the entrance and the lawns resembling a junkyard, the J&K Bank headquarters near Dalgate here has become a symbol of the condition the flood had brought down the Kashmir Valley to.
Until two weeks ago, the elegant structure was perhaps the only office of its class representing a player from the state’s infant corporate sector.
Ensuring security and to prevent trespassing, a group of policemen, stationed in a special room dedicated to them, always stayed guard at its iron gate. And everyone visiting the office, wherefrom the bank’s ‘elite’ operated, was to undergo a security check, reveal and register his/her identity, and mention the purpose of the visit.
Such was its decorum that the bank was last winter reported to have been disallowing entry to the people donning Pheran, the long woolen gown symbolising Kashmiri culture.
But the few hours of nature’s fury has changed everything, turning the bankers themselves into virtual transgressors and the bank’s lawns into a junkyard lookalike, aptly representing the post-disaster life in the Valley.
To gain entry into the headquarters whose main gate is still inaccessible due to water, the bank authorities have dislodged a portion of its stone fence on the lateral side facing the Golf Course.
And to the makeshift gate, a wooden staircase has been attached to help people in descending from the several feet tall wall.
Acting in what would otherwise count as transgression, the bankers and the desperate clients walk through the lawns to reach the main building where only necessary operations are being carried out on the upper floors of the building.
In the otherwise well-maintained lawn, the water-soaked furniture from ground floor of the main building had been left to dry in sun, lending it a junkyard look.
“When we decided to make the headquarters operational, the main challenge was to provide a smooth entrance to our officials and clients as our main gate was inaccessible. So we decided to create this makeshift entrance, and it is working very well,” a senior official of the bank told Kashmir Reader.
The officials, including the bank’s VIPs ferried in white Ambassador cars, use the main road as parking; only the officials driving heavier vehicles can arrive through the main gate.
To prevent mishaps, a middle aged official Monday stood watch to his younger colleagues stepping down onto the swaying stool placed as a foothold close to the fence.
“Watch your steps,” he told them, before getting into his car to leave.
Despite the effort, routine banking continues to remains affected across Kashmir Valley mostly due to improper internet connectivity.
Many branches of the J&K Bank, the dominant member in the state’s banking sector, are still nonfunctional while several others are bound to do extraordinary manual labour and work from borrowed locations.
Total resumption of the routine banking is expected to take time.
“The bank depends on (internet) connectivity for work. Until, connectivity is restored fully, it is difficult to carry out routine operations smoothly,” said an official of the bank.
“It is going to take time before we can operate as smoothly as we did before the flood,” he added.